medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today (20. August) is the feast day of:
1) Maximus of Chinon (d. 5th cent.). All that is known about the historical M. (in French: Maxime, Mesme, Mexme) comes from chapter 22 of St. Gregory of Tours' _In gloria confessorum_. According to this, he was a disciple of St. Martin of Tours who left the Touraine to live humbly as a monk on the Île-Barbe at Lyon. When growing fame compelled M. to move on and he was crossing the Saône, his boat sank to the bottom but he was able to cross without difficulty to the other shore, all the while carrying the Gospels, a chalice, and a paten. M. returned to the Touraine, where he founded a monastery at today's Chinon (Indre-et-Loire). He is said to have aided besieged and thirsty people of the town by causing the occurrence there of a massive downpour. An eleventh-century Vita et Miracula (BHL 5838-5839) adds nothing about M. in his own lifetime.
M.'s monastery at Chinon was rebuilt in the tenth century and was expanded and rebuilt at various times in the succeeding centuries. Here's how its church, the (ex-)collégiale Saint-Mexme, is thought to have looked in the early nineteenth century:
The collapse in 1817 of the transept tower entailed the destruction of the building's east end. Herewith some views of the surviving towers, narthex, and nave of a structure that now houses a school:
Carved stones on the facade of the narthex:
Restoration work in the 1980s uncovered some fifteenth-century painting:
2) Philibert of Jumièges and of Hermoutier (d. ca. 685). We know about the monastic founder P. (also Philbert; in Latin, Filibertus, Filbertus, and Philibertus) chiefly from his mid-eighth-century Vita by a monk of Jumièges (BHL 6805; alternative prologue, BHL 6806). According to this text, whose accuracy is thought to be reasonably high, the Gascony-born P. was the son of a high civil official who had become a bishop. Educated at the court of Dagobert I, at the age of twenty he entered the Columbanian-oriented monastery of Rebais recently founded by St. Audoenus (Ouen). When, some years later, P. succeeded as abbot his very strict rule sparked a rebellion. P. thought it best to leave. He visited monasteries in Francia, Burgundy, and Italy and studied a variety of monastic Rules.
In 654, his travels seemingly over, P. founded in Audoenus' diocese of Rouen on property donated by Clovis II and his queen St. Bathild (Balthild) the monastery of St. Peter at Jumièges. Later he founded a women's monastery at today's Pavilly (Seine-Maritime). Difficulties in the later 670s with the Neustrian mayor of the place Ebroin caused P. to leave Jumièges. With the assistance of the bishop of Poitiers and of some monks from Jumièges he founded on the coastal island of Her or Herio in today's Vendée the monastery that came to be known as Hermoutier and later as Noirmoutier.
P., who late in life was able to resume formal control over Jumièges, named St. Acardus (Achard) his successor there before dying on this day at Hermoutier in an undetermined year. His cult was surely immediate. In the ninth century P.'s remains underwent a series of translations, _non sine miraculis_, in which their first major resting place was today's Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu (Loire-Atlantique) and their last, from 875 onward, was at the abbey of St. Valerian of Tournus at Tournus (Saône-et-Loire) in Burgundy. P.'s cult radiated from these places as well as from his own foundations in Normandy.
Northmen destroyed Jumièges in 841. Rebuilding of its church of St. Peter commenced in the later ninth or early tenth century; in the eleventh century the monastery was greatly expanded and a new church, dedicated to the BVM, was built. Herewith two sites on the remains of this foundation:
Hermoutier was destroyed by Muslim raiders in 732. Louis the Pious re-established it in 804 but raids by Northmen in the 830s and 840s caused the community there to withdraw to the mainland, taking P.'s body with them. After the monks had established themselves at Tournus they re-opened Hermoutier as a priory. All that survives of it now is its crypt:
Some illustrated pages on the remains of the originally ninth-century priory church at Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, erected by the monks of Hermoutier/Tournus over a crypt they had had built for P.'s body in 836:
After leaving Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu the monks brought P.'s remains briefly to Cunault (Maine-et-Loire) in Anjou. The originally late twelfth-century église Notre-Dame there <http://tinyurl.com/392xqn7> includes among its many figured capitals one with scenes from P.'s Vita:
Some illustrated pages on the originally tenth- to twelfth-century église abbatiale Saint-Philibert at Tournus:
Other dedications to P.:
a) The originally eleventh-/twelfth-century (spire is early sixteenth-century) deconsecrated église Saint-Philibert in Dijon:
b) The originally eleventh-/fifteenth-century église Saint-Philbert in Beauvoir-sur-Mer (Vendée):
c) The originally twelfth-century église Saint-Philibert (facade is nineteenth-century) at Donzère (Drôme):
P. as depicted in a twelfth-century collection of saint's Lives (Dijon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 641, fol. 22v):
3) Christopher and Leovigild (d. 852). Our information about C. and L. comes from St. Eulogius of Córdoba's _Memoriale sanctorum_, 2. 11. They were monks of different houses from the vicinity of Córdoba who during the mid-ninth-century wave of Christian challenges to Muslim superiority in that city presented themselves before a judge, proclaimed their Christianity, and, knowing that this was a capital offence, called Mohammed a false prophet. Adjudged guilty, C. and L. were incarcerated, beaten, and executed by decapitation. Although their corpses were burned, Christians managed to salvage some physical relics of them and deposited these in Córdoba's basilica of St. Zoilus.
Eulogius, who had been C.'s teacher, records today as their _dies natalis_. So does Usuard, who had been in Spain in 858 and who had met Eulogius then.
4) Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153). A well-educated scion of a knightly family in Burgundy, B. entered religion at Cîteaux at the age of twenty-two, bringing with him as fellow postulants close to thirty relatives and friends. A few years later he was the founding abbot of Clairvaux. A voluminous and talented writer -- his sermons on the Song of Songs are medieval classics -- and an ardent reformer, the personally ascetic B. played a leading role both in the rapid growth of his Cistercian Order and in ecclesiastical matters more generally (e.g. the condemnation of Abelard in 1141). His support of Innocent II against Anacletus II brought him to Italy several times and, as papal legate, to Germany.
It was probably at the council of Pisa (1134) that B. met a local canon, also named Bernard, who later followed him to Clairvaux and who in 1145 would become the first Cistercian pope, taking the name Eugenius (i.e. Bl. Eugenius III; 8. July). B. vigorously promoted Eugenius' call for what is now known as the Second Crusade and his eloquence in that cause at the diet of Speyer in 1146 helped to secure the participation of the emperor Conrad III. Here he is with Conrad in an illumination in an early fourteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 4900, fol. 184r):
B.'s writing seems to have stopped in about 1148 with his Vita of St. Malachy of Armagh (BHL 5188) and his _De consideratione_ addressed to Eugenius (whom B. outlived by less than two months), both showing his characteristic combination of mystic spirituality and concern for the affairs of the church in the world.
B. was canonized in 1174. In 1830 he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of Gibraltar (reconquered for Christendom on 20. August 1462) and a patron of Queens' College, Cambridge. On the latter distinction, see:
At B.'s native Fontaines-les-Dijon (Côte-d'Or) one may visit his family home:
as well as a medieval church re-dedicated to him in 1860:
An earlier re-dedication to B. was the monastery of Santa María at Sacramenia (Segovia), originally built between 1133 and 1141. It became a monastery of San Bernardo shortly after his canonization. Some expandable views of its church, now called that of Santa María la Real, are here:
The monastery's cloister is now in North Miami Beach (FL) in the United States:
Further depictions of B.:
a) An expandable view of B. (at left) in prayer with bishop St. Malachy of Armagh (2. November) as depicted in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 106r):
b) B. discoursing with fellow monks as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century (1348) copy of the _Legenda aurea_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 214r):
c) A page of expandable views of manuscript illuminations depicting B.:
d) B. as depicted in a north Italian antiphoner in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (W. 412 b.):
e) B. as depicted in a Catalan breviary of the late fourteenth-/early fifteenth-century ("Breviary of Martin of Aragon"; Paris, BnF, ms. Rothschild 2529, fol. 374r):
Two of the earliest Cistercian houses in Italy were founded by B.: today's Chiaravalle Milanese in Milan and Chiaravalle della Colomba at Alseno (PC) in Emilia. Their churches and other older buildings are from the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Histories, views, etc. of these daughters of Clairvaux:
a) Chiaravalle Milanese (1135; formerly Santa Maria di Roveniano):
b) Chiaravalle della Colomba (1136):
5) Herbert of Conza (d. 1181 or 1184). Today's less well known saint of the Regno (also H. of Middlesex) is documented as archbishop of today's Conza della Campania (AV) from 1169 through 1179, when he took part in Lateran III. A notice in the _Ymagines historiarum_ of Ralph of Dicetum (a.k.a. Ralph of Diss) presents an otherwise unrecorded Englishman of this name as having been made archbishop of Cosenza in Calabria by king William II and as having perished in a great earthquake (one that destroyed its cathedral is recorded for Cosenza in 1184). In the absence of confirmation from other sources, the prevailing view now is that Ralph confused Conza with Cosenza.
H.'s death on 20. August 1118 (the year is thought to be an error for 1181) is reported as having been recorded on a pilaster in the cathedral of Conza that was destroyed in stages by the earthquakes of 1694 and 1732 (as opposed to that building's eighteenth-century replacement that collapsed in the great Conza earthquake of 1980).
An ancient sarcophagus containing remains said to be H.'s was housed until fairly recently in the Museo provinciale irpino at Avellino but is now back at Conza. Here are two views:
H. has no Vita and no medieval Office. He has yet to grace the pages of the RM.
Granted that H. may never even have been in Cosenza, its mention creates an opportunity to link to a few visuals of that city's cathedral of Maria Santissima Assunta, consecrated in 1222:
and to its funerary monument for Isabella of Aragon (d. 1271; queen of Philip III of France):
6) Bernardo Tolomei (d. 1348). The Sienese nobleman and contemplative Giovanni Tolomei was born in 1272. He studied law and then joined the Confraternity of the BVM attached to his city's hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. In 1313, seeking a more ascetic lifestyle, he took the name Bernardo and together with other nobles withdrew to a family property in the Accona desert of central Tuscany where they lived eremitically in shallow caves. In 1319 the group, which had grown larger, was permitted by the bishop of Arezzo to erect a Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto. The monks, as they now were, elected their abbot annually and a Patrizi and a Piccolomini each served for a year before B. was elected in 1321, after which time he was re-elected annually for the remainder of his life.
This initial Olivetan community found willing adherents elsewhere and before his death B. had established ten priories, all called Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto and all strictly bound to the mother house. In 1344 the Benedictine congregation so formed received papal approval from Clement VI. In 1348 B. moved to the priory at Siena to assist in the care of his monks who had been stricken by the Black Death and died there in the same year (traditionally, on 20. August). He was buried at the Sienese priory; the location of his gravesite is now unknown. In 1462 the Olivetans at the mother house were said to be venerating his relics there. B.'s cult was confirmed by the Congregation of Rites in 1644. He was canonized papally in 2009.
Herewith links to the website of B.'s initial foundation, the abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore at Chiusure (SI) in Tuscany, and to other illustrated pages on that house:
(last year's post revised and with the additions of Philibert of Jumièges and of Hermoutier and Christopher and Leovigild)
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